Bom Jesus de Braga breaks the ‘historic’ record for visitors. There were more than 2 million in 2023.

Bom Jesus of Braga sets a “historic” record for visitors. There were over 2 million in 2023.

It was the first time this number was achieved. Bom Jesus of Braga received, in 2023, over two million visitors, a record deemed historic by the Brotherhood of Bom Jesus of the Mount, which highlights in a statement that it was the first time this number was reached.


The year 2023 will be remembered for notable events at the Bom Jesus Sanctuary. Let us present and reflect on these occurrences and circumstances that marked 2023 in this sacred haven. Due to its tremendous significance and importance to our community life, we must highlight that this was the first year in which we surpassed two million visitors, a historic and remarkable record that demonstrates how Bom Jesus remains a privileged space for attracting and hosting visitors, pilgrims, and tourists.

It will be important to analyze some circumstances that helped achieve this historic number.

First and foremost, we highlight the World Youth Day (WYD) held in August in Lisbon. Bom Jesus naturally became one of the epicenters of the Pre-World Youth Day in Portugal, attracting thousands of young pilgrims to the Archdiocese of Braga and this Sanctuary in the days leading up to the WYD, especially on July 28th. The influx of young people brought joy, life, and color to Bom Jesus. Seeds were sown, and in the Post-WYD period, we welcomed thousands of young people who, before returning to their countries, decided to visit Bom Jesus.

Secondly, with a favorable national context, the year 2023 was the best tourist year ever in Portugal, with over 30 million guests and 77 million overnight stays. Despite the increase in tourist demand nationally, some international events affected global and national economic activity.

Lastly, the increase in international recognition, through UNESCO World Heritage inscription, provided a historic year for Bom Jesus, overcoming the recent global pandemic.

A More Inclusive and Vibrant Sanctuary

The year 2023 was indeed a very positive year for Bom Jesus and for Portugal as a whole. Interestingly, at the invitation of the Confraternity of Bom Jesus, the Secretary of State for Tourism, Nuno Fazenda, visited Bom Jesus in April 2023, foreseeing a good tourist year, which ended up setting a record, with a growth of around 10% compared to 2019, the previous best tourist year.

This was certainly the year when more young people visited Bom Jesus, representing different countries, cultures, and social backgrounds, making it a more inclusive year where we aimed to provide a good visiting and pilgrimage experience to all who chose Bom Jesus as a destination.

Thus, in 2019 and 2022, the Bom Jesus Sanctuary recorded over 1.5 million visitors, and in 2023, we reached 2 million, a very significant figure, nearly 100% higher than the previous year, including all those who visited Bom Jesus: faithful, pilgrims, tourists, day-trippers, study groups, sports enthusiasts, and all Bracarenses who make Bom Jesus a regular and mandatory destination.

More than 60% of visitors came during the summer period, which is naturally the peak tourism season in Portugal.

The Bom Jesus Funicular transported around 400,000 people and was included in the list of examples of industrial heritage in the National Industrial Tourism Network.

The guided tours service saw a 20% increase compared to the previous year, meaning nearly 2,000 people left Bom Jesus enriched by a more qualified visiting experience.

Another example of the international market’s recovery was the significant increase in arrivals of buses carrying foreign citizens.

These numbers remind us of the need to ensure a balance between the development of tourist demand and the needs of residents, and only a sustainable Sanctuary that maintains authenticity can continue to be a reference in the future.

Focus on Sustainability

The year 2023 affirmed our ability to respond to a significant increase in demand, demonstrating structural consistency capable of ensuring that everything was ready to receive thousands of visitors. We are prepared and have the capacity to face future challenges with a focus on sustainability.

Environmental conservation is a constant concern. Ensuring its sustainability and availability to the community requires ongoing work, maintenance, and care. We carried out several plantations in Bouça do Souto, planting over 3,000 trees. Several institutions, companies, schools, and other groups collaborated in this unique project, helping to create a native forest in Bom Jesus, protect the Sanctuary, and follow up on Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ Action Platform Plan.

The safeguarding and protection of natural heritage also stimulate its promotion and valorization. We recall a unique and probably unprecedented example in Portugal, the “Fragrance of Bom Jesus”, a product that, assuming itself as the “olfactory identity” of the Bom Jesus Sanctuary and being one of a set of five, fits into an allusive dynamic to the five senses stairway of this resort. This fragrance is the result of research work in partnership with Nortempresa and gathers the aromas of nature from the Bom Jesus Woods.

The work on sustainability carried out by Bom Jesus placed Braga among the top 100 green destinations in the world, as part of a certification process as a sustainable destination.

For a more sustainable space, it is necessary to continue to preserve and valorize Bom Jesus and its cultural landscape, support the Confraternity and the Bom Jesus Hotels in energy transition, and adopt good environmental practices.

We hope that public entities with responsibilities in this area will continue to understand that a World Heritage site, visited by two million people per year, is not compatible with degraded and unsafe access, and that private interests do not prevail over the public interest, allowing Bom Jesus to remain Braga’s flagship and lung.

Focus on the Spiritual Dimension

Worship at Bom Jesus is its essence. The clear majority of foreigners, as well as Portuguese, who come to Bom Jesus for a faith experience, confirm its international scope and spiritual significance, especially this year, driven by the WYD. The services at the Basilica, organized in terms of celebration records, saw a total of 1780 Poles, followed by 908 Italians, 782 Americans, 670 Swiss, 588 Spaniards, and 693 Portuguese. In total, over 10,000 people from the “four corners of the world” chose Bom Jesus. We also highlight pilgrims from Germany, Argentina, South Korea, the United Kingdom, Canada, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Hungary, Hong Kong, Peru, China, among others.

In 2023, 117 couples tied the knot through marriage, and 87 children received their first sacrament, baptism, a slight reduction from the previous year, justified by the fact that most weddings postponed by the pandemic were held in 2022.